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Fostering a culture of professionalism through compliance

Deb Feasey, Head of Compliance and Operations, explains why staying on the right side of evolving legislation is a top priority for ORJ.

Compliance might not be a topic that gets many hearts racing with excitement, but it’s vitally important for all business – and particularly for law firms.

There are many regulations to be aware of including legislation around modern slavery, data protection, criminal finances and money laundering – and that’s just scratching the surface. There are also rules that need to be adhered to every time a firm enters into a contract with a client, for example.

Firms found to be in breach of regulations can expect fines, loss of insurance, reputational damage and even closure.

Individual lawyers, meanwhile, can be hit with fines, disbarment or even criminal prosecution if they fall foul of the ever-greater laws covering their personal conduct.

On the contrary, when compliance is done well it is a great benefit to all. It fosters a culture of professionalism, operational efficiency, business growth and success – and gives peace of mind to all stakeholders.

As Head of Compliance at ORJ Law, it is my responsibility to ensure the firm complies with all regulations and requirements enforced by various governing bodies, which at times can be challenging in this world of ever-changing legislation.

We aim to deliver competent and ethical legal services at all times. We take a risk-based approach towards compliance by creating practical solutions to strengthen and protect our financial stability and growth.

With strong processes in place, we can rest assured that we are doing the best we can to improve and maintain operational efficiency which enhances employee productivity, cultivates public relations and promotes client trust.

Law firms are high risk targets to money laundering and terrorist financing, so we need to have effective and robust policies, controls and procedures in place to combat any risk of being infiltrated by these criminal acts.

Consistent, relevant and up-to-date training is crucial, so we ensure all our staff are well-versed on all aspects of compliance. Lawyers are busy people and some might find compliance a burden, but I’m really proud of how our people have bought into the high standards we strive towards.

Our regulators expect to see strong internal controls and clear audit trails. It is, therefore, vital that we maintain open and good relationships with our regulators. We record all risk management decisions and actions taken on files as in the eyes of our regulators, “if it is not recorded, it did not happen”.

Failure to adhere to regulations can have catastrophic consequences for law firms. It can damage client relationships, destroy the firm’s reputation and lead to legal liabilities and heavy penalties, which in some cases can be the demise of a firm.

Our mantra is “be compliant and stay compliant”.  Ultimately, a healthy compliance culture is the basis for success in a law firm.

I’d be delighted to explain further how compliance is a top priority for ORJ – not just a box-ticking process.